The Adoption Domino Effect

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Joanne Currao, A Late Discovery Adoptee, Discovers a Secret that Affects Her and Her Children

About a year and a half ago, at the age of 48, I found out that I’d been adopted as a baby in New York. My life derailed right then and there. My adoptive father died when I was 17. My mom had passed away two years prior to this discovery. All I had left was my older brother.

At the time, I’d been married for 26 years and had three beautiful children who ranged in age from 9 to 22-years-old. I had been a stay-at-home mom since my second child was born and enjoyed every moment of my family. Life was beautiful. . . or so I thought.

I was on the phone with a cousin talking about antiques that had been my mother’s, explaining that my brother had most of my mom’s things in his house, and that we needed to discuss them, but there never seemed to be a convenient time. She said, “Oh. I thought that the fact that you did not have more of her things might be because of the adoption!”

I was confused. “What? Do you mean our grandmother?” I knew my grandmother’s first born child had been born out of wedlock.

She went on to explain that my brother and I had been adopted, and that my mother was unable to bear children after her third miscarriage. “I thought you knew,” she said.

My mouth dropped open. Did I just hear that correctly—Adopted? How could that be? Sure my mom had had three miscarriages, but she had always told me that I was hers. I sat in stunned silence as the word ‘adoption’ washed over me.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I hadn’t realized that you didn’t know. I feel bad.”

“How did you find out? Who knows this? How long have you known?” I asked.

“My mother told me when I was young, maybe 12. Everyone knows, our cousins, their spouses, everyone.”

I thanked her for telling me. I told her not to feel badly because it was vital that I know. I told her I’d be okay and got off the phone. The room was silent, but the sound of a train crash rang through my ears.

That word “EVERYONE” rang in my ears. Even people who married into this family knew? But I didn’t. I felt ashamed, like I was the butt of a huge inside joke. Everyone knew, and probably talked about it in hushed whispers. I imagined that—“See that kid over there? She was adopted, but nobody is supposed to tell her that so shhhh.” My mind raced reimagining the family functions of my life.

“Honey?” I called to my husband in the other room. “You’re not going to believe this—my cousin just told me I was adopted!” He was as stunned as I was. He looked at me with an odd look on his face and asked about my brother. He told me he would have thought my brother was a natural child, because my mother had always seemed to favor him.

“Nope. He’s adopted too.” I decided right then that despite how horrible it would be for him to hear, I needed to call my brother and tell him what I’d just found out, make sure he heard it from me.

I composed myself as best I could, picked up the phone, and dialed his number. I whispered a quick prayer for God to give me strength while I waited for him to answer. It was going to hurt him.

After we exchanged hellos, I said, “I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it. I’m sorry to shock you with this. I just talked to Donna and she dropped a bomb—she said we were both adopted.”

Nothing. Nothing on the other end of the line, but a long silence followed by a heavy sigh. Did he already know? Could he have already known and not told me? In that moment, I felt certain that he knew the truth. “Wait—you know this?” I asked.

“Yes. I know. I came across our Adoption Decrees in Mom’s papers a few years before she died,” he said. “I really wanted to tell you, but the time never seemed right, and as time went on, it got harder and harder to tell you. Mom was sick and you were going through so much at the time.”

Now I was the silent one.

He apologized. He told me his name at birth, and that he had found his biological mother. I was stunned!

Not only had he not told me, he had gone on to find his mom and hadn’t thought it was important to tell me the truth. I was at a complete loss for words. He, too, was “in” on the family joke. That’s what it felt like. I imagined my brother talking in hushed whispers with his own family about me. I had never felt more shame and anger than I did on that day. My mind raced away with imagined scenarios of the people that I’d loved laughing at me behind my back for being too stupid to know this fact about myself.

I learned two things that day: nothing in my life was what it had seemed, and that betrayal runs deep.

In the months that followed, I cried so many tears I should have washed away. I had a horrible crushing chest pain and became severely depressed. I was also worried. All my life I had given my physician an incorrect health history for myself and my children.

At a routine screening during my second pregnancy, my doctor discovered I carried the genetic defect for Cystic Fibrosis, a potentially fatal disease affecting the lungs and other organs. At the time, the news had shocked me. Supposedly, that trait is rarely found in Italians.

My husband had to be screened too. We both needed to have the gene in order for it to effect our offspring. I asked my mother if anyone in our family had had Cystic Fibrosis or been tested for it. If ever there had been a perfect time for her to tell me about my adoption, that would have been it.

She simply said that there was no family history and told me to disregard the results because they were probably wrong. I wondered if it might be on my father’s side, but because he had passed away years earlier I couldn’t ask, so I reasoned that since my husband is a full-blooded Italian, and he did not carry the trait, all would be okay.

Once my adoption was revealed, my fears returned in full force and kept me awake many nights. What genes or other horrible defects might I carry that could hurt me or my children?

I contacted Catholic Charities, the organization I learned from my brother had handled our adoptions. They said our records were destroyed in a fire. I googled the said fire and learned that there had indeed been one at the Iron Mountain Storage facility in NJ. The fire destroyed Catholic Charities’ adoption records in New York City from the late fifties to the mid seventies, mine included. I contacted the church that I was baptized at. They said they had no record of me under either my first name or my adopted name.

More pain in my chest, only now it felt like an elephant was standing on me. Within a few weeks, I was at the doctor’s office for the pain, and explaining to him that I had no health history. Fifteen minutes or so later he asked: “Any family history of anything like this?” I looked at him in disbelief.

“Oh! I’m sorry.” He went on with the exam, deemed my chest pain stress related, and gave me a prescription for a sedative and antidepressants, then sent me on my way.

The last year and a half has been a roller coaster of emotions. I paid a large sum of money to find my mother, only for her to tell me that after all this time, she does not know if she can have a relationship with me. She never told anyone about me, and her shame and guilt are unbearable.

Despite a few exchanged letters, I still know very little about her, only that she is Scottish and Polish and she told me that my father was Jewish. I was raised Italian. I know Italian! I don’t know Scottish. I don’t know Jewish. How can I even begin to identify with who I really am?

My name at birth was Tracey. That is not an Italian name. What does a Tracey look like? Act like? My entire foundation, everything I’d thought I was, had fallen out from under me.

One afternoon, during all this, my oldest daughter, Veronica, sat next to me at the kitchen table with a sad look on her face. “Mom, I know you’re sad and angry. I just want you to know that I’m sad and angry too. I feel like Grandma not telling you, is the same as not telling us. I feel like I am adopted too. Like I am feeling everything you feel. All the lies. Grandma’s family history is not my history anymore. All those stories that I loved to hear were all untrue for me. I thought she loved me. I’m mad because she lied not just to you, but she lied to US.”

I hugged Veronica. It hurt to think that my adoption had to affect her too. She and my mother were very close. My adoption was like dominoes, impacting my children and perhaps their children one day too.

I still don’t even know what my birth mother looks like or the sound of her voice. Thankfully, though, I found my birth father’s family. He passed in 2002. I keep in touch with his sister, and she is wonderful. She has shared stories and photos of him. I look like him. It is surreal to see a face that really looks like you when you have never had that experience (aside from my kids).

I remember a time when I was about seven and asked my mother if I was adopted because of a feeling I had. She got angry and denied it, said I was crazy for thinking such a thing. So many memories come flooding back, and so many lies.

I have had weeks where I couldn’t even leave the house. After reading books about adoption loss, I realize that all the same feelings of loss and trauma that adoptees who knew they were adopted described, were feelings I could relate to also, even though I was not consciously aware of my adoption. Somewhere in there is knowing.

I am slowly getting my life back through individual and group therapy and building a new foundation. I am not going to allow myself to be a victim of decisions that were made for me without my knowledge, consent, or approval. I owe this to myself, my husband, and my children. I’m healing my hurts, facing my trauma, and learning about who I really am inside, the culmination of all my experiences.

I am fighting for open records for others like me, in New York, and in any state I see that needs letters and support. Most U.S. States do not allow adoptees the right to our original birth records and identities.

I need my original birth certificate. It is a need that is beyond the obvious. I already know my name, and the name of my first parents. I already have my medical history. This is something different. Sometimes it feels as if I wasn’t born at all, like I just sort of popped into existence—a daughter without a country. I want to see with my own eyes that I was born and connect my face to my past.

Thanks for visiting our online community. In addition to stories like this one, you can find valuable resources, discover your rights to your original birth certificate, meet other adoptees, and join the discussion by commenting (below) or on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Joanne Currao

Joanne Currao

Website

Joanne has lived in Pennsylvania for most of her adult life, but was born, adopted and raised on Long Island, New York. She didn't learn about her adoption until she was 48 years old, and recently reunited with her first family. Her work experience has taken her from the operating room to the court room, first as a surgical technologist and then as a paralegal. She is married with three children and a few “furry kids," and loves art, reading, and writing. She blogs about her experience as a late discovery adoptee, and as an activist for original birth certificate access legislation, for Secret Sons & Daughters and her own blog: Orphaned Heart.

30 Responses

  1. Joanne Currao

    Wow, Leigh! Our experiences have many similarities! I know my adoptive mother would have been scared witless if I had found out and expressed a desire to search. I would have put literally nothing past her that she would do all in her power to stop me or thwart my efforts. I totally agree about the back up files too! I find it hard to believe that they can tell literally thousands of adoptees “sorry, but your records were destroyed in a fire.” I do believe that educating the masses (most of which have no idea that we are being denied all of this information about ourselves) that it is absolutely an infringement of our civil rights that needs to be corrected. We think as a nation that we have come so far with regard to prejudices and equal rights for all, but it is so incredibly far from the truth. Many other groups are much more vocal so their causes are in the light, but if adoptees and first moms do not speak out, we will forever be forgotten. Thanks for sharing your story with me! I hope NY opens their records with a CLEAN bill soon so no one is left behind!

    Reply
  2. Leigh T

    Joanne, I can’t imagine the jumble of emotions of being a LDA. I always knew I was adopted and could explain many of my innate differences from my adoptive family because of my French Canadian mother. My adad used to say that I would think like an Italian but my heart was all French. I was raised on LI by a Catholic very Italian family. At 22, I found my birth name…It was quite Jewish, which was a shock. I was born in a Catholic hospital, baptized the day I was born and adopted via Catholic Charities. It wasn’t until several months later when I got my non identifying information that I learned that my grandfather was A Canadian Jewish man who married a RC French girl from the UP of Michigan. My mom and uncles were raised to know both religions and pick which the identified with. My non identifying info was horrible…opening sentence said that my mother intentionally got pregnant to prove she could bear a child but did not want the baby. The social worker was against reunions, gave me a strict speech when I expressed my desire for reunion. This info was the last she wrote the week she retired. She wrote horrible things to make me change my mind about my search. I beat her and the adoption industry and have had a great relationship with my Mom for 21yrs. My aMom destroyed my search files when she found out about my search and my records were among those that burned in the arson fire at Iron Mountain too. I will never have those again. I fight beside you and all NY adoptees for our birth certificates. No one should have that power over another person. No agency should be able to let our histories be destroyed…there should have been at least another set of backup files at another site! Thanks for writing.

    Reply
  3. Paige Adams Strickland

    Joanne,
    I can relate to wanting to feel born for real and not just popped out into existence on the planet. I wish you much success. How did your brother find his bio-relatives? Was he not from NY? Paige

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Paige! Thanks for reading my story! It is amazing how real that disconnect can feel, isn’t it? It is like your beginning cannot register in your brain with so many unanswered questions. My brother found his first mom by using a private investigator that specializes in adoption search. (The same investigator I eventually used.) Yes, we were both born and adopted in NY, which is currently a closed records state. He, like me, had his name at birth because we both had a copy of our adoption decrees with our names on them.

      It is not completely impossible anymore in many circumstances to find that information even in closed records states with the era of social networking or if you are able to spend the money to find it…The fact is that we should not have to put out large sums of money for our identity or post demeaning photos of ourselves holding placards containing personal information on Social Networking sites in order to find our truth when the whole of society does not have to do these things. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution promises equality to all persons under the law and gives Congress the means to stop the states from sanctioning prejudices in Civil Rights for any class of citizens for any reason.

      Why, in this day and age, this is allowed to continue for an entire class, namely adoptees, is beyond my comprehension. If legislators could look at this from that standpoint, (without all the smoke screens the opposition likes to put up) it would be a no brainer. I am hoping someday soon, we all have our civil right to equality under the law restored, and we can all know our original identities.

      Reply
  4. Di

    Hi
    Thank you for relating your story in all its rawness. I can identify with so many aspects of it, and have been sitting here nodding and saying OMG … you also were the last to know that you were adopted … you were lied to regarding information about yourself that you had a right to know for medical reasons as a minimum … and you’ve not only had your own grief but also the grief of your children. Thank God for the honesty of your cousin for breaking open the vault of family secrets.
    Take care

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Di! Thank YOU for reading my story! 😉 I am VERY thankful for my cousin telling me. It was purely accidental, as she thought I had always known, but were it not for her, I would still be relaying the wrong health history to my physicians and my children’s! I don’t think most people out there are aware of how much the loss of our vital information affects not only us adoptees but also future generations! This ancestricide needs to stop. If adoption is truly “in the best interests of the child”, then by all means our emotional well-being and the future of our families must also be considered. I believe the closed adoption system and the sealing of our true and accurate birth records are detrimental to not only our own lives but also the lives of our children and our children’s children! Thanks again for reading.

      Reply
  5. Steve

    I wonder if your birth mother suffered from secondary infertility. That is very common among first mothers.

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Steve! My first mother had one other daughter…about 4 years after me. She never had another one after that…however, I had secondary infertility after my first child. It took 10 years and fertility medications to conceive my second and then my third was a complete and happy surprise! I cannot help but wonder if my secondary infertility was related to issues stemming from my relinquishment. I cannot help but wonder if somewhere in there my first daughter’s birth reminded me of my own birth deep down… Certainly an interesting prospect! Thanks for reading my story!

      Reply
  6. Carol Janousek

    Joanne, I’m 73 and have always known I am adopted! Of course I’ve always wondered about my birth parents and medical history,especially when I had my son. My adoptive parents loved me as if I’d been born to them. In Bloomington, IL, I belonged to a group “Healing Hearts” for those touch by adoption. Learned so much from participating in this group, as there were adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents and siblings! I moved away 10 years ago but the group is still active. Besides my son, I had two miscarriages. We then adopted an infant daughter (who has been reunited with and has a relationship with her birth parents). Later adopted a brother and sister who were wards of the state due to neglect. They were 8 and 10 when they came to live with us. They also knew birth parents. Birth father has died. They have a relationship with siblings and other relatives. Many adjustments were needed, but we all survived! All four children now in their forties and we are all talking to each other!

    As for myself, I knew my BM name and address, wrote her a letter, never heard back. Went to the town where she lived, discovered she had died only months before! I do have a wonderful relationship with her late husband’s nephews family! Her husband was not my father and she had no other children. My only wish is to obtain a copy of my original birth certificate. I was adopted in IL but born in MO.

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Carol! Wow! Your life has been touched by adoption many times! It sounds like you did a wonderful job for your adopted children. Connection is so important at any level you can give them and I commend you for seeing that importance! I am sorry that you never had a chance to meet your first mom. As for your original birth certificate, keep fighting and never lose hope! MO is working towards a bill. Write letters if you can, send emails, get your friends and family to help you if you can. This can happen if we can show enough support. All the best!

      Reply
  7. Darlene Kuykendall

    Thank you for sharing this story. I was 18 when I found out that I had a different father than the one I was brought up with. My mom and birth father were divorced when I was 1 and my mother remarried when I was 3. Her new husband threatened the priest where I was baptized to change my last name to his. He could not legally adopt me because my birth father never gave up his rights. My mom and “step dad” left the state with me and we moved around the country a lot. Like you everyone else knew. My grandmother, cousins etc.. It wasn’t until a visit to my grandmother’s telling her of the abuse that my mom, brother and I suffered at the hands of “daddy” that my grandmother finally told me the truth. Like you I felt betrayed and hurt. How could my mother let a man who wasn’t even my father abuse me?
    I met my real dad and we have a great relationship. I am 46 and only got the whole story about what happened 6 years ago. Was good to get closure. Needless to say, my mother and I have a very strained relationship. Forgiveness is not as easy as they say. Especially when she refuses to take any responsibility for what happened. At any rate I have been marries for 20 years and have four amazing boys. Thank you for telling your story and for helping adoptees find their birth parents.
    Actually before me my dad had another daughter whom he gave up for adoption. I have been trying to find her for years.
    Blessings.
    Darlene

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Darlene! Thanks for reading, and thank you for your comment! I am sorry that you had to suffer such abuse at the hands of your step-father. It is wonderful that you have found your natural dad and have a good relationship! We cannot help but feel betrayed when we trusted someone and they did not take that trust to heart. I choose forgiveness (believe me, it is a conscious choice) but it is not always easy to live that when you are so hurt. I pray you find your sister. No one should have to feel that they are alone in the world. :)

      Reply
  8. Joanne

    Hi Joanne – I am also a Joanne. Something else we have in common. I have to say I can relate so much to your story. I had no idea but at the same time lacked that sense of belonging. I had even made that comment to my step mother just a few months before finding out. My adoptive parents separated when I was only 6. I eventually went on to live with my adoptive father who went on to marry a woman with two sons. So my family was already a little scattered. I had a brother and sister who I thought were blood related to me but they were 10 and 11 years older than me.
    When I found out at the age of 36 that I had been adopted, while that was shock enough, the hardest thing I found was dealing with the anger of everyone else knowing and feeling made a fool of. It is obvious that some people would know that were around at the time I was adopted but to find out that most of my step family knew still boils my blood if I let it. I have step cousins younger than me that knew. Some of whom are also very good friends.
    I guess I was fortunate in that my adoptive parents were still around to ask questions to and my birth mother came looking for me – and like Jamie above – I was contacted by post adoptions and told their search led them to me. Aside from the anger and shock I decided that as much as it does change who I am on one level I am still the person I have become and I have tried to use that to keep the anger at bay.
    I am now 42 and have a fairly decent relationship with my birth mother although she doesn’t live nearby. I know the circumstances around why she had to let me go and I respect that she did what she thought was best. She had spent 16 years looking for me. For the most part I have been lucky.

    My biggest challenge now is whether or not to find my birth father. I have a name but am told that he wanted nothing to do with me when my mother was pregnant. My gut wants to find him but I don’t want to be a home wrecker in case this is something he’s never talked about. I’m not expecting a warm reunion but I have reason to think I may have at least one half sibling as well. Did you hesitate at all to finding your father’s family. Did you know before hand if they knew about you? Should I care? I do have a right to at least get a medical history for me and my 3 children. Fortunately we have all been healthy but it is still a little scary not knowing if there is something looming that we should be checked for.

    I haven’t read the books you mentioned but have made note of them and will have to track them down. Thanks for your post. It is nice to find people feeling the same things! Sometimes you just feel like even though you do your best to appear normal no one really gets what is really going on inside your head!

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Joanne! Thanks for reading my story and for commenting. It is amazing how your mind can race with thoughts of imagined conversations when you find out who knew before you, isn’t it? It does make me angry that no one felt strongly enough that my truth belonged to me and me alone, and that I should be the owner of that information first and foremost.

      As for your search for your father, make sure you are ready emotionally for whatever you find. I know that many times what appears to be rejection is not what it seems. Fear of facing those emotions can be debilitating. I did know that my father knew about me. I did not hesitate. Maybe I was naive, because I don’t think it was bravery. 😉 I believe every adoptee has a right to their own health history for themselves and their families. I know exactly what you mean about the fear of not knowing what to look out for healthwise.

      There are so many good books out there on adoption loss. Thankfully, the research results are in… How we all fared is not an unknown anymore. The more we speak up about it, the better it will be for all who come after us. I am glad that this story validated you. It is good for me to see that and to feel validated by all of you who read this as well. We are soothing salve to each other. Best of luck to you, Joanne and best wishes for you in your search and your life’s journey.

      Reply
  9. David Pratt

    Joanne,

    I completely understand when you say “I felt ashamed, like I was the butt of a huge inside joke”. My mother (a-mom) passed when I was 10 years old. My father (a-father) raised my sister and I. At the age of 17 I was searching for my birth certificate in my father’s safe and that is when I found it. “This child will now be known as David Pratt”. What did this mean? I read on further to see this was an adoption decree. I searched further and found my sisters as well. I confronted my father who denied it at first then, with tears in his eyes, went on to tell me he promised my mother he would tell my sister and I when I turned 18. My life, as I knew it, was turned upside down. I went to a family friend who I considered to be my older brother with this information. He knew, I went to my cousins, they knew (who knew since they were children). Everyone knew but my sister and I. I started looking at family photos and started noticing the differences. Now I knew why at family get togethers I could not curl my tongue like my cousins or I why I did not have the family traits. Then I started feeling I was treated differently because I was adopted and not part of the family circle. Years later after my father passed away my fear was acknowledge by a cousin that the reason my sister and I were not included in family events was due to the fact that they did not really see us as family. I went on with life, had a family of my own, and in the mean time I have searched. I know my biological name and my bio-mom’s name as well as her parents. Come to find out I am Italian instead of English/Russian/American Indian. Even with all the information I have turned up empty handed. My sister on the other hand found her biological family and has had a great relationship with them. The hard part is what do I tell my children, they know I am adopted and I have never spoken badly about it. They often want to help with the search mainly because they have never had grandparents on my side. To wrap this up I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. There are many of us from the sealed record era that found out later in life or some that probably will never know. I did learn one thing in life though, family does not have to be blood because my mom and dad loved my sister and I enough to take us in and raise us as their own with unconditional love. I feel if they told us from the start they may have thought we would not love them the same. Oh how wrong they were.

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi David! Thank you for reading my story. My older brother I am sure suffered the same shock as you when he came across our Adoption Decrees in my amom’s papers. I know what you mean when you speak of differences in family traits. I was the only one with red highlights in my hair and freckles on my face in my Italian adopted family. I am sorry your search has not yet turned up anything. Please do not ever give up! Try a search angel perhaps, or if you can afford it, a paid searcher like I did. Make sure you are emotionally ready for your search because reunions can be really emotional things. I pray you find your first family. DNA might be something to consider too as it might turn up a common surname amongst your DNA relatives that might open a door. Whatever you do, don’t quit. I am glad you were blessed with such wonderful adoptive parents…many are not so blessed. :)

      Reply
  10. Lesley Earl

    I can so relate , fortunately I grew up knowing I was adopted…(it still messes with everything) …My mother gave up 3 babies and when I was found by my brother my first question to him was what took you so long to come looking? To which he replied I just found out I was adopted (48 years old)…That blew me away…the rage I would have felt would of been monstrous…Lies for me are unacceptable as is the with holding of information …

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Leslie! Thanks for reading my story. There is a lot of anger involved in knowing everyone knew but you. I have always hated lies, but this is perhaps the biggest lie I know of. I liken it to knowing someone is going to die and not telling them they are terminal. Adoptees somehow always know they do not fit exactly, but if they do not know they are adopted, they do not know why it seems so different for them. Like a terminal patient, they know that something is very wrong, but do not know how bad or why it seems so bad.

      Reply
  11. Kim Coull

    Thank you so much Joanne for your heart rending piece. I relate to it so so very much as a fellow LDA. I just want to give you a tender embrace of recognition and understanding…and I truly admire your activism. All the very, very best…

    Reply
  12. Jamie

    I can totally relate to this story. I always knew something was different but it wasn’t until recently at age 45 when my suspicions were confirmed when a woman from the adoption registry called to give me a little information about my birth mother. It took a long time to set in, then it hit me really hard that my family who I never felt approval from and who distanced themselves from me had lied to me my whole life. When I confronted my family all I received was either no acknowledgment, I don’t remember anything and even discouragement looking for more information or that I even found out. I replayed my whole life through different eyes and things are making more sense.

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Jamie. Thanks for reading my story. It is mind blowing that our adoptive families cannot always understand what a huge issue not telling us is. I too played my whole life “in re-runs” as it seems (and I continue to do so today) and more and more makes sense. I hope it helped anyway to know you are not alone and others understand.

      Reply
  13. Barbara Thavis

    Joanne,
    You have probably read “The Girls Who Went Away.” I hope you can have compassion for the horror your mother went through placing you for adoption. Just as your life unraveled that day, your mother’s did the day you contacted her. We were told so many lies (I’m a first mother, too). The biggest lie was our kids didn’t need us, just the wealthier, married people that got to raise our kids. I buried everything for the most part until reunion and then life stopped and came crushing down. I’m younger than your mother, my daughter was born in 1980. I don’t have that shame element that she deals with. When my daughter wrote to me I yelled it from the rooftops. I was like a new mother with a baby. But the grief of losing her and all those years without this most precious woman was almost too much to bear. I can’t tell you the months and years of feeling like a lun-a-tic!!! I have heard of women that react like your mother and then come to their senses. I hope, for both of you, that she does. Have you read the blog over at Adoptee Restoration? Her mother said no and later they had a good relationship.
    Oh, Joanne, there is so much corruption in adoption. When a child really needs a home and the adoptive family looks after their mental as well as physical health it can be a beautiful thing. But often it’s all about the adults’ feelings with little regard to the child. Welcome to adoptee rights. We have a long way to go!

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Barbara! Yes, I read the book literally right after I read “The Primal Wound”. I am so horribly sad for my mom, because she is totally paralyzed by her fear. I am just trying my best to be as patient as I can and to let her know the door is open to my life, when she is ready. She has written me that her family never spoke a word about the adoption ever again…her parents passed on and never gave her a moment’s validation to her grief. She has never shared this with another living soul. Simply horrible. Reuniting with me means she needs to face this again….I am sure her terror is unbelievable.

      Reply
    • Christine Koubek

      Barbara,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I LOVE Ann Fessler’s book. It helped me understand the magnitude of what my birth mother must have gone through. Even though she had told me some of it, she didn’t share the darkest parts until I’d known her for almost 20 years. She found me when I was 19 and I think she tried not to overwhelm me more than I already was, or add to the tremendous guilt I grappled with for wanting to know her. This was the late 80s when Barbara Walters and other TV specials made it seem like an adoptee was disloyal for wanting to know anything, or that it was somehow a reflection on adoptive parenting, which made it all the more isolating to have been adopted. Just over four years ago, after my birth mother, Ann, died, and I was helping to sort through her things, I found the copy of “The Girls Who Went Away” that I’d given her. She bracketed only one part in the whole book: “but that I let somebody take my child. That’s the guilt. People talk about the worst thing that could happen to you is to lose a child. And no one talks about that in terms of a birth mother. What do they think that is for her?…It’s in your cells, and in your guts, and in your consciousness, and in your heart.” When I look back now, my own guilt is not because I knew her, or grew quite close to her, it’s because I struggled to say for so many years – my mom is my mom, and I love my mom, AND Ann was my mother, and I loved her too. I’m thankful for comments like yours, and so many good stories that give people hope and help us all see that we’re not alone!

      Reply
  14. Christinia

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am looking for my sister that my mom claims was adopted. I feel like I can definitely relate to your story! My mother told me that another man was my father after having to find out on facebook from my half brother. I felt hurt, betrayed, and angry because everyone knew this secret but me. On top of that, I have a younger sister out there somewhere that I’ve never met. Your story encourages me to continue my search in hopes to find my sister. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Joanne Currao

      Hi Christinia! Thank you for reading my story. You have a lovely name! I am sorry that we have had to feel the hurt of secrets. I hope you can find your sister. Never give up the search…ever. People have found their family after many years of search…but the important thing is that they found them! All my best wishes to you. :)

      Reply

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